Saturday, April 30, 2011

In Which Jer And I Have A Date

Jeremy and I went out on a long date today!

It's the first time we've spent a whole day together in a while, and we had a really great time.  Our respite care worker came by the house just before lunch time, so Jeremy and I took off to one of our local sushi places and ate a whole bunch of yummy raw fish.  Then it was off to the bookstore.  No date of ours is ever complete without a bookstore and of course, a coffee shop, which is where we spent some time reading our new additions to our library. 

After an hour or so we made a brief stop at the house and then we were off to Seattle to watch a men's roller derby bout.  This was the first men's derby bout I'd seen, and in a lot of ways it felt like we were watching a completely different sport when we compared it to women's derby.  The men have a very different playing style, and the game seemed to be more chaotic and moved much faster than what we usually see out on the track with women.  This is the only men's derby bout we've seen though, so it might have just been this particular bout.  At any rate, it was really fun to watch!    

We ended the night with a stroll around the mall and dinner at a Thai restaurant.  All in all it was a lovely day; it's so nice to get the chance to spend a bunch of time doing things I enjoy with my husband.  Everybody needs a day like that sometimes!


Friday, April 29, 2011

In Which The Sun Comes Out

Today was one of those days where the sun came out early and the whole world busied itself with growing.  I dropped Connor off at school and then spent most of my free time outside weeding while above me a steady stream of bees flew back and forth between the flowering cherry trees and the woods.  I've thought about tracking the hive down-- not to take their honey or anything, just to see where they live-- but the garden needed work so they can keep their secret for a while longer. 

My cheeky little hummingbird was out today too; he's claimed the whole of the front yard as his territory and divided his time between guarding his feeder and keeping an eye on both me and encroaching bees.  Every once in a while he'd fly down and hover a few feet over my head to supervise and make sure I didn't turn over anything interesting in my weeding.  Hummingbirds eat a lot of insects, and so he'd swoop down and snatch a gnat or winged beetle disturbed by my digging out of the air before returning to the feeder.  He likes to make little squeeking noises right before he pounces, and the buzzing of his wings as he rushes past my ear in pursuit of his meal are surprisingly loud.  It's adorable and kind of creepy all at the same time. 

The weather turned gloomy and a little rainy in the afternoon, so Connor didn't get to enjoy the outdoor weather.  His school's kindergarten put on a circus show today though, and he got to go and watch the performance.  He had a blast!  I may have to see what kind of children's plays and puppet shows are going on in our area over the next few months; his attention span and sensory tolerance have gotten to the point that he might finally enjoy watching something like that without being completely overwhelmed.

After Jeremy came home I left Connor with him and drove out to the city for some derby-related things.  I started the drive home just before sunset and the tips of the pine trees looked glided.  As I neared our town the sky cleared and a huge double rainbow bloomed in front of me, framing the mountain perfectly as Josiah Johnson crooned over my radio.  It felt like something out of an overly sappy Lifetime movie; I swear I didn't realize perfect moments like that actually happened.  Of course my brain ruined it by instantly coming up with a whole bunch of quotes from the double rainbow song for me.  Oh well.

It was still a pretty great day.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

In Which I Let You All Know How Jer Is Doing

Over the past few weeks a whole bunch of you have asked for an update on how Jeremy's doing, so I thought I'd let you all know!  It's been about a year and eight months since he got blown up, believe it or not.  Time flies, huh?

The short, quick answer is that he's doing really, really well.

The longer answer is that he's gained back all the function that he'll have at this point.  What that means for him is that he's able to walk with only a slight limp, run short distances and go about his daily business without a cane or any assistive devices.  It's pretty awesome, and way, way beyond what the doctors typically see with injuries of this kind.  I think Jeremy's work ethic has a whole lot to do with that.

Uneven terrain, long distances and really hard surfaces are always going to be an issue, and as Jeremy gets older the amount of functional use he has will change.  Of course that's true for everybody-- I bet I'm not going to be as spry in my seventies as I was in my twenties either.  We don't know what kind of new surgeries or assistive technology will be out there in another couple of decades, so in the meantime Jer's focusing on preserving as much functionality as he can for as long as possible. 

How does he do that?  Well for one thing, he works out all the freakin' time.  Usually he hits the gym a couple of times a day right now; he's able to deadlift twice his body weight at this point and is darn close to doing the same with his squat.  For those of you who don't know a whole lot about weight lifting, what that means is that he's in pretty decent shape.  He figures that the better shape he keeps his body in, the longer he'll be able to stay mobile.  It's a pretty good assumption, and trust me when I say that I don't mind at all. 

So that's your Jeremy update! 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In Which Connor Motivates Me To Clean My Couch

So today I discovered that my Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook does not cover how to get poop off of a microsuede couch.  This is a major oversight on Martha's part, in my opinion.  So since she couldn't help me out, I found myself googling something with the word "poop" in it for the second time this week-- this time deliberately.

I am really not liking this trend, people.

But that's what I get for feeding Connor too much applesauce, I guess.  I've discovered that he's a huge fan of the big batch of cinnamon applesauce I made last week from all our farm share apples, and he's been scarfing it down like pudding.  I thought that applesauce was supposed to have the opposite effect from what happened to Connor today, but evidently if you eat enough of anything it'll screw up your system. 

Um, yeah.  So that's your poop explosion update.  You can thank me later.

Other than learning about lots of new ways to clean my couch, today was relatively uneventful.  Connor was once again seizure free, and I'm going to send him back to school tomorrow.  He's more than ready to go-- I told him that he could go back tomorrow and he applauded.  I'm so happy that he loves school so much; it's so cute how excited he gets about it! 

And of course I'm ready for my free time again.  Precious free time, how I love you.  Even if I will spend all of you tomorrow recleaning my couch cushions.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In Which We Go To The Emergency Room And My Husband Is Awesome

Well today was kind of a mixed bag.

Since yesterday's attempt at making a same-day doctor's appointment didn't work so well (we ended up with one on Friday) I called our appointment line at six in the morning today to see if I could get in.  They hooked me up with an appointment for eleven something in the morning today.  So far, so good.

So about nine in the morning I got a call from the doctor.  "I'd like you to take Connor into the ER instead of our office," she said.  "We don't have oxygen in our rooms and if he had an apneic seizure here we'd have to rush him down there anyway so I'd rather you have his levels drawn there."  I offered to bring our portable oxygen with me, but she said she'd still be more comfortable with Connor being seen in the emergency room instead of the pediatrician's office.

Fun times.

So I packed the little guy up and off we went to our local cushy private hospital emergency room.  If I was going to have to take the kid to the ER, there was no way I was driving all the way down to our military hospital when we live practically next door to a hospital that not only offers much nicer rooms, but also cable TV.  Because of Connor's glorious medical history we ended up in a private room after about fifteen minutes. 

Connor, I might add, seemed perfectly fine; he'd had no seizures at all, and when they checked his temperature it was normal.  They put an IV in the little guy, drew some blood, took a urine sample and then that was when the hospital had about ten critical patients arrive at the same time and all hell broke loose for the poor medical personnel, who I believe were short-staffed that day. 

So there I was, feeling totally silly, sitting in the ER with a kid who was not only completely free of all the symptoms that made me want to bring him in to see a doctor in the first place, but who was also having a blast.  He got to watch TV!  Lots of TV!  All the TV he wanted!  And he got Mommy's full attention!  As far as he was concerned, other than the whole IV thing this was an awesome way to spend the day.

I was not quite as enthusiastic about it. 

Seven hours later things finally calmed down enough for the doctor to be able to get around to reading Connor's levels and taking a look at his cultures.  Everything looked perfectly fine, so they released us with the diagnosis of "resolved viral infection" and instructions to call them in four or five days and get the lab results for his seizure meds, which have to be sent out.  Connor waved "bye bye" to all the nurses and gave them big smiles as we left, totally charming them all of course.  It's what he does. 

So on the not-so-fun side of things, we spent seven hours at the hospital today for what really should have been a twenty minute doctor's appointment.  But on the good side, Connor is back to his normal, happy self and is not having seizures anymore. 

And after I got home things took a major turn for the better.  Jer, who knew that I would not be in the best of moods when he got home due to the whole seven-hours-in-the-emergency-room thing, surprised me with a bouquet of roses!  Then he watched Connor for me while I went to a skating session to work off some of my bad mood.  And for the coup de grĂ¢ce, he mentioned something about getting me fitted for custom skates sometime in the next few weeks.

How the heck did I manage to be lucky enough to marry this man?  I have no idea, but I'm so glad I did.  For a derby girl, her significant other telling her they want to buy her custom skates is the equivalent of them serving a twelve course meal and following it up with a bubble bath, massage and a box containing a large sparkly rock. 

Sorry ladies.  He's mine.


Monday, April 25, 2011

In Which Connor Is Still Sick And Jer Turns Thirty

Well, today was day four of the inexplicable Connor Fever And Seizure Saga.  We actually thought he was on the mend-- he wasn't really running a fever when he woke up this morning and he only had one 15 second seizure in that period, but then he made up for it shortly after noon, when his temperature spiked again and he had two seizures within a half an hour period.  And I completely forgot to call his physical therapist and tell her he wasn't doing well and that we were canceling, so that was fantastic.  Also I couldn't get Connor a doctor's appointment until Friday. 

This was not one of my more successful parenting days.  I'll start my phone call blitz at six in the morning tomorrow and hopefully make myself annoying enough that someone will find us a cancellation and fit us in.

So it was also Jeremy's 30th birthday today!  I asked him how it felt to be 30, and he said that it feels pretty much exactly like being 29.  I think I was more excited about the birthday than he was.  Oh well.  Connor and I gave him some nice socks and super soft house slippers (our laminate floors are awesome for Connor's chair and my skates but hard on Jeremy's bare feet) and a thick bath robe.  His big present from me was a new coffee grinder. 

When Jeremy bought his very first espresso machine a few years ago I didn't realize it was going to be like a gateway drug to fancier and fancier coffee apparatus.  I upgraded his espresso machine last year for his birthday, but then his grinder no longer ground the coffee fine enough so he needed a new grinder to match.  His latest toy (for those of you who are interested in this sort of thing) is called a Rancilio Rocky Doserless Burr Grinder, and I'm pretty sure it comes with more features than our car. 

It has a similar price point, too. 

At any rate, he's pretty excited about it because this means that he can start roasting his own beans again instead of having to buy them preground, which is apparently sort of horrible sin in the world of coffee snobbery.  I expect to hear the happy sound of our fire alarm going off in the near future!

I'm glad he likes it.  Happy birthday to Jer!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

In Which I Discuss Topics Entirely Inappropriate For The Spirit Of The Holiday We Celebrated Today

Happy Easter, everyone!  Hope yours was filled, like mine was, with family togetherness and a whole lot of love. 

Also chocolate.  And possibly those little peep marshmallow things, if you like them.  I don't really enjoy the taste of them but I buy them anyway because I have a morbid sense of humor and enjoy biting the heads off small sugary animals at least once a year.  Plus putting them in the microwave is a favorite pastime of mine; it brings back fond childhood Easter memories created when my brother and I had unsupervised access to the kitchen. 

Sorry about that, Mom.

I didn't have any peeps to microwave this year due to Connor's current sicktastic state essentially putting us under house arrest, so I was forced to live my peep gladiatorial battles vicariously through other people's YouTube videos.  It's a poor substitute for the real thing.  Certainly it's less tasty, especially when I was looking for an image for this blog and accidentally typed "poop microwave" instead of "peep microwave." 

I do not recommend doing this ever.  I have now seen some things that cannot be unseen, and am quite possibly scarred for life.  And I just realized that not only did I miss church due to the aforementioned Connor sicktasticness, but I have also now blogged about two topics that are highly inappropriate for Easter-- biting the heads off baby animals and poop.

If the world ends tomorrow I am probably in big trouble.

Anyway, so that picture up there (the one of me and Connor, not anything involving poop and microwaves) is pretty much how I spent my day; Connor had three seizures and is definitely still under the weather.  I'll be taking him in to see the doctor to have them check him out as he's not congested at all-- he's just really tired and still running a fever.  I'm a little worried that he might have a UTI or something that's not going to clear up on its own.  Also he needs his five year vaccinations.  Fun times.

In the meantime, happy Easter to you all!  Microwave a peep for me, okay?


Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Which Connor Feels A Little Better And I Think About Easter

I think Connor's on the mend.  He did have a couple of seizures today, but he seemed much more perky than yesterday and I'm hoping that tomorrow will be the last of it.  Of course him being sick means we'll be confined to the house for Easter, but one can't have everything.  I'll read the Easter story to Connor, sing a few hymns, and then I'll cover the secular part of the holiday by sticking some bunny ears on the cat. 

It'll work.

Not that Connor really gets the Easter bunny anyway.  In fact, we kind of avoid talking about the Easter bunny in our household because Connor associates the topic with those people dressed up in rabbit suits for photo taking at the mall, and he finds them terrifying.  Personally I don't really blame him-- I find them pretty creepy myself.  I think it's the four-inch long teeth.  You know that anything with teeth that big can't possibly be living on a vegetarian diet no matter what they might claim, and that they probably find small children to be a good source of protein. 

And then there's the Easter egg hunts.  Easter egg hunts are completely pointless for this kid.  First of all he doesn't eat candy.  I could do hard boiled eggs instead of the plastic ones to avoid that problem, but I'm the only person in this house that eats hard boiled eggs and I'm pretty sure I couldn't get through more than about three in one sitting without getting sick.  Then there's the fact that he doesn't even want to look at the eggs, let alone touch them. 

The only way I could get Connor to pay attention to an egg hunt would be if I was to make the eggs musical and decked out with miniature LED lights.  I love my child to death and I will do many, many things for him so that he can join in with holidays just like everyone else, but I draw the line at anything that involves the installation of lighting and a sound system. 

That's not what Easter's really about anyway. 


Friday, April 22, 2011

In Which Connor Is Sick For Real This Time

I think Connor felt bad about not being sick on Monday, so he decided to get sick today to make up for it.  As a result he's running a fever, and we all know what that means.  He had two seizures today: one of them a three minute long apneic seizure.  I kept him home from school and he spent the whole first half of the day asleep.  He's on Tylenol and also a daily dose of Ativan until he feels better.

Jeremy had the day off, so I actually got way more done than I usually do when Connor's feeling under the weather.  Having the sun out again makes me want to throw open the windows and clean everything from top to bottom, but that's hard to do when you've got a kid who just wants to be held all day.  So since Jeremy was home he got to spend some quality snuggling time with the little guy, and I got to start my spring cleaning.  It was pretty nice, other than the whole Connor-being-sick-and-having-seizures part.

If it's not one thing with this kid it's another!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

In Which The Gerbil Makes A Late Night Excursion

It was just past four in the morning when Jeremy abruptly sat up, flipped on the lights in our bedroom and nudged my shoulder. 

"The gerbil's out again," he said.
"Mmmrmrghblargh," I replied, and shoved my buried my head in my pillow.  I am very eloquent at four in the morning.
"Did you hear me?  The gerbil's out again.  You catch one cat and I'll catch the other."

After determining that I was not having a very odd, realistic dream possibly brought on by gerbil escape-related post traumatic stress syndrome, I stumbled out of bed, shoved a towel under the hallway door and lurched over to our small sitting room area in the bedroom, where Jeremy (who is rather ridiculously chipper at four in the morning) already had one cat corralled and was busy trying to keep the second from getting underneath our arm chair.  After we threw the cats into the laundry room and I put my contacts in so I could actually see, Jer got out the flashlight, we peered underneath the magazine rack and sure enough, Leelee's little beady eyes stared back at me for the second time in as many weeks. 

Leelee apparently has a death wish.

Leelee probably would have succeeded in his second Death-By-Cat suicide attempt if not for three things.  The first is that our cats are kind of dumb, and also (thanks to indoor living and a generally hygienic house) are not used to chasing small rodents.  The second is that we have laminate floors in our bedroom which easily pick up and magnify not only the sound of our cats banging around the house but also the scrabbling sound of a gerbil desperately flinging himself across the floor at high speeds and, due to not getting particularly good traction, making a heck of a lot more noise than he'd make on carpet.  The third reason is that Jeremy is a light sleeper and he picked up on the fact that something in the room was making a noise our cats couldn't possibly duplicate, which woke him up.

I quickly snuck into Connor's room to make sure there was only one gerbil missing.  Not only was Cranston (who is apparently either the dumber or much more intelligent gerbil, depending on how you look at it) still firmly ensconced in the cage, but the latch was still firmly shut.  I have no idea how Leelee got out, but I took off the cushy second story of their aquarium and put on the old top back on.  Then I stuck a brass bookend on top of the lid.  Hopefully that will solve the problem.  I walked back into the bedroom, grabbed a trashcan, and prepared to do battle.

Thankfully Leelee was much easier to catch this time--possibly since he had just spent fifteen minutes or so engaged in the extreme sport of Cat Baiting and was considerably winded as a result.  I popped him into the trashcan, brought him back into Connor's room and dumped him back in the cage, where he turned around, glared at me resentfully for ending his fun, and then charged over to his water bottle to rehydrate and to plot his next round of shenanigans. 

I went back to bed.  And if Leelee gets out again at four in the morning I hope that the space under that magazine rack is comfy.  He's on his own at least until the sun is up.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Which We Have A Nothing Day And It Is Great

Connor had another relatively decent day today; he slept in for a little bit, did a little bit of playing with me and then we headed over to his occupational therapy, where he got to spend time on a swing and interact with some fun toys.  He seemed to be having a little more difficulty controlling his mouth today and was drooling quite a bit, but that could very well be due to the medication change.  Otherwise I'm happy to say that we had a pretty quiet day.  About the most exciting thing that happened today was that I cooked a roast chicken.  Hey-- I get excited about chicken.  Chicken is awesome.

Oh, and also I got some fudge mint cookies, because I consumed pretty much every bit of chocolate we had available in our pantry on Monday after our fun ordeal.  Cookies are pretty awesome too.

Anyway, I'll be sending Connor back to school tomorrow, which I'm sure he'll no doubt appreciate.  So we're back to business as usual!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Which Connor Is Ornery But That's Perfectly Fine

Today was a much better day than yesterday.

When I checked Connor's temperature this morning, he wasn't running a fever at all; if anything his temperature was a bit low.  Last night they took his temperature using a forehead thermometer because we'd just used suppository Diastat on the kid that would screw up a rectal temperature.  Taking Connor's temperature in an auxiliary place (like the forehead) is highly unreliable with this kid because of his autonomic nervous system issues, and the "fever" they'd registered was less than a degree above a normal temperature.  I highly suspect he wasn't running a fever at all, and that this seizure was actually a response to us taking that last step down and finally stopping his Trileptal this week.  If the Trileptal-- however ineffective and bad for his health it might be-- was still doing something for his seizures, coming off of it could easily trigger what we saw last night.

I called the nurse line at our hospital this morning and they were extremely prompt in getting back to me; it was one of the fastest response times I've ever received and they took the situation very seriously.  The nurse talked with the epileptologist who had discovered the issue with the Trileptal and recommended we come down off of it, and he upped Connor's Lamictal.  So hopefully this will prevent Connor from having any more disturbing seizures like yesterday's; we'll just have to see what happens.

Connor had no idea that he was supposed to be feeling under the weather and recovering from yesterday's ordeal.  Connor woke up convinced today was a completely ordinary day despite the fact that the Diastat was still in his system and his muscles were down right rubbery they were so fatigued, and when I told him that he would not be going to school this morning he got very angry.  "No Mommy!  Want go!  Want go!" he signed over and over again.  When that didn't work he stopped signing and instead resorted to shrieking at a volume and pitch that if maintained for long enough would easily shatter fine crystal and also possibly my ear drums. 

Clearly my child would not be winning any special awards for manners today.

Under ordinary circumstances I would be a little less tolerant of this kind of thing; Connor knows better than that.  I think the behavior I was seeing was probably caused by a combination of him still feeling under the weather from the seizure, his normal routine being interrupted and him still feeling a little traumatized from how much the seizure yesterday scared him.  So his behavior was pretty understandable under those circumstances and I figured he'd probably need some extra love and patience from me today. 

In an effort to keep him engaged while sticking close to home and keeping his level of physical exertion to a minimum, I took him outside into our new backyard space.  We have a small lawn chair that he sat in outside all last year, and I thought it would still fit him easily.  Unfortunately I forgot to take into account his far greater torso strength.  I placed the chair on the grass about three and a half feet away from the bottom of the ramp, sat him down, turned around to get a chair of my own and had taken exactly one step when I heard a big thump.  Connor had launched himself sideways out of the chair and was catapulted through the air, landing on his elbow and shoulder right at the edge of the cement.  I rushed over and scooped him up while he still had that shocked and utterly betrayed look on his face kids get right before they burst into tears.

"Mommy hurt Connor," he signed, and began to wail. 

Yes, my child has at the tender age of five years old already mastered the delicate art of the guilt trip.  I am so proud.

Connor's elbow was a little scraped up, but there was no swelling or discoloration and his shoulder and head were fine.  I took him inside and, after I cleaned him up and snuggled with him for a while, filled the bathtub up halfway with warm water.  I changed into my swimsuit and put Connor in his, and then we spent some time relaxing in the tub, which finally calmed him down completely.  It also calmed me down: perhaps a little too much.  I had to get out because I was afraid I'd fall asleep!  I think the events of yesterday were catching up with me.

Anyway, the rest of the day went really well; Connor quit acting so upset and scared, slowly began regaining muscle strength as the effects of the seizure and the Diastat began to fade, and by the end of the day he was pretty close to being back to his normal, happy self.  I'm really glad that it looks like the seizure probably didn't cause any permanent neurological damage: always an alarming possibility with seizures that last over about ten minutes. 

Hopefully by tomorrow the little guy will be back to his completely normal self!

My monthly article for Hopeful Parents is up.  You can find it here.


Monday, April 18, 2011

In Which Connor Gets Sick

I was planning on writing about what a lovely day this was; it included a trip to the playground, a picnic out in the park and Connor having a grand old time.  But then the little guy threw a major wrench in the works.

He had a sixteen minute seizure today-- by far the longest seizure he's ever had.  Jeremy had just gotten back from work and picked him up to say hello when it started.  Luckily it was not an apneic seizure or I might be writing a very different blog today.  Instead this one was a simple partial seizure; his mouth, left arm and leg all jerked in rhythm but he retained control over his right arm and though he got a little pale he kept breathing.  We had the oxygen on him after the first thirty seconds or so, which seemed to help.  Also he was conscious the whole time during the seizure-- he was looking at us, blinking and could squeeze my finger with his right hand.  Basically the seizure succeeded in scaring the bejeezus out of him.  Understandably; it scared the bejeezus out of me and I was just watching it.

We administered Diastat at five minutes and called 911 when we hit ten minutes with no sign of the seizure ending.  Normally our response time is about thirty seconds, but this time they probably had to call someone from another station so it took them a little longer to get here; Connor stopped seizing just as they pulled up.  They took his vitals, gave him some blow-by oxygen when they found his stats in the 80's, checked his blood sugar (they usually do this-- I guess seizures are one sign of a diabetic being hypoglycemic) and took his temperature.  Turns out he was running a low-grade fever; it looks like he's starting to get sick again and that's why his brain went haywire.  We deliberated for a little bit about whether or not to go ahead and take him to the hospital, but ended up deciding that we'd rather not transport.  At this point besides testing him for bacterial infection (which we'll have our pediatrician do when I bring him in tomorrow) the plan at the hospital would be to dose him with Tylenol and keep him under close observation: both of which we can do at home, where we don't risk infecting him with somebody else's bug.  Since we live just down the street from a hospital we feel comfortable keeping him at home for now.  If he has another major seizure we'll be bringing him in so they can give him more powerful antiepileptic drugs until he's over whatever bug he's caught.  Please keep your fingers crossed for us that we'll be able to stay out; he's much more comfortable at home.

He's asleep now in his bed; I was finally able to move him off my chest without him starting to cry again.  He was pretty traumatized and just wanted to be held and rocked for a few hours.  I stayed home from derby practice and sat on the couch with him while he alternated between dozing and sobbing like his little heart was breaking.  So this was not a good day. 

Let's hope this is a 48 hour bug!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

In Which Connor's Hearing Aids Are Found!

Jeremy found Connor's hearing aids!

They were on a table in our bedroom of all places, half-buried under a pile of clothes.  I highly suspect that the cats had something to do with this.  So all is well and disaster was averted.  I'm glad they are found, and Connor seems to be pretty glad of it too!  He's been asking for them a lot in the past few days.

Connor's battling a case of insomnia again, which of course means I'll be up until goodness knows what time.  So I'm up listening old episodes of a radio program about adoption and eating a bowl of ice cream.  If I have to stay up until all hours of the night, I might as well get some ice cream out of it.

I'm feeling pretty wiped; I spent some time outside today and also had roller derby practice tonight.  So I'm afraid that I'm writing this about half asleep right now.  I just spent about five minutes staring at the same sentence because I couldn't remember how to spell "bowl."  You know how if you look at a word for a really long time it starts looking increasingly weird and you can convince yourself it's not really a word?  Okay, maybe I'm the only one who does that.  At any rate, I just did it with "bowl." 

Evidently I'm pretty tired.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

In Which We Go On Safari

Today Jeremy, Connor and I hopped in the car and drove down to Northwest Trek!

Northwest Trek, for the benefit of those who don't live in the local area, is a large wildlife park located a stone's throw south of our town.  It's got a big free-roaming herbivore exhibit (accessed by a tram tour) as well as a number of other smaller exhibit areas for native animals, most of whom for one reason or another can no longer survive in the wild on their own. 

This is the first family outing we've taken with Connor for a non-medical activity that's been more than three or four miles from home and has lasted more than an hour or so in a long, long time.  With the return of his good health and a rare day with clear skies, we figured that it was a great time to see how he'd do.  He had a great time!  The park wasn't very crowded and other than a large pack of wild roaming teenage boys people were for the most part pretty courteous. 

Connor seemed to especially enjoy the hour or so long tram ride.  It was fully accessible and Connor got to ride comfortably in his chair while he watched out the windows.  While he missed a lot of the wildlife because he was more interested in viewing the scenery, a few of the creatures like the buffalo and moose were impossible for him to overlook and he certainly seemed interested.  Jer and I enjoyed the ride as well; we've missed these family outings and it was lovely to get the chance to spend time together again having adventures as a family outside of our cozy house. 

As the tram pulled back into the station and we prepared to leave, the woman in the next seat stood up, leaned over to me and said in a low voice:  "I've been watching your son, and I just want to say to you that I'm so moved by him.  He's just a beautiful boy."  She beamed over at Connor for a quick second and then turned and left the tram without another word. .  "Thank you," I called after her, a little bemused.  I never know quite what to say in situations like that.   Connor, completely oblivious to the fact that he'd effortlessly captured yet another heart just by being his ridiculously adorable self, was too busy applauding the tram driver for her excellent driving skills to pay attention and never even noticed the woman at all. 

After we finished the tram ride we toured the rest of the park, visiting the birds of prey, large cats, wolves, bears, and other forest animal exhibits.  Connor also got to spend some time up close and personal with a skunk and a beaver and to feel various animal pelts and horns.  We ate lunch in the cafe on the property, wheeled around their short accessible nature trail and then packed up and headed back to the house. 

All in all it was a day well spent!


Friday, April 15, 2011

In Which We Have A Crazy Day

Today was one of those days that ended up being kind of ridiculously busy. 

While Connor was at school I worked on some roller derby business, spent some time on the phone with our insurance company and finished (finally!) planting out the herb garden in the forty minutes or so that the weather cleared up.  Then I searched for his hearing aids (which are still AWOL) while he took a short nap.  When he woke up we were off to run some errands, including stopping by our adoption agency to drop off some more paperwork and have a quick meeting with our program manager.  From there we drove directly to physical therapy.  Connor usually has PT on Wednesdays, but we needed to switch our time this week so instead we had an evening appointment, which we ended up having to push even later because we got stuck in rush hour traffic on the way there.  I was supposed to have a roller derby meeting after that and a promo as well, but by the time I got Connor home it was already over and I was absolutely exhausted.

I'm not used to doing so many things out of the house in one day any more-- at least not with Connor in tow.  For the past three or four months he's been having so many seizures that I've been pretty much confined to the house when Jer or his respite care worker aren't here.  I've forgotten just how much more energy it takes to pull an eight hour day of running around with a kiddo!  Connor did really well, though-- he seemed to enjoy himself and didn't get crabby or impatient.  I think that alone shows just how well he's doing health-wise right now.  He especially liked the adoption agency trip-- they had a large sign on the wall that included pictures of some Asian children on it, and he got really excited about that and asked to take it home.  He also asked to take the receptionist home.  We're working on the idea that all people who have  black hair and skin darker than his are not his sister, but I don't think he's quite got it down yet.

Thankfully tomorrow should be a fairly quiet day, and that will give me the chance to recover!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Which Connor's Hearing Aids Go Missing

Connor's hearing aids are missing.

I couldn't find them on Tuesday when I got Connor up in the morning.  Jer put Connor to bed Monday night since I was off at derby practice, so I assumed he'd put them somewhere other than their usual nightly spot on the little guy's bookcase.  I called him, but he was in a meeting so it went through to voicemail.  After looking for a little while I figured it wouldn't hurt Connor to go one day without them and took him off to school. 

So I was a little surprised when Jer got home that evening and told me he didn't know where Connor's aids were-- he'd assumed I'd taken them out and put them somewhere before it was the little guy's bedtime.  I searched the house yesterday and today and so far I've had no luck.  The elastic band with the metal clip that attaches Connor's hearing aids to his shirt when he's got them on is a couple of years old now, and he can pull the whole thing off a lot more easily than he used to be able to, so it's certainly possible he could have yanked them off and dropped them somewhere.  Since we were all over town on Monday I'm not really excited about this. 

I'm still hoping that we'll find them in the house somewhere, but we may be out of luck and ordering some new aids in the near future!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Which We Get Pictures And Connor Is Kind Of Coughy

Our pictures came in the mail today!  I'm super excited to get the chance to see how Ellen has grown; the last pictures we have of her are from when she was eleven, so it's been a while!  She really looks like a young lady now.  There are a couple of really cute ones of her seeing our pictures for the first time and grinning from ear to ear.  I might frame one of those and put it up in the house.

It was back to the gloomy, rainy weather here so we spent most of the day indoors.  I still have to put all my plants in the ground; since Connor doesn't have school on Wednesdays and I had a derby event this evening I didn't have the chance to plant anything today.  Hopefully the ground won't be too muddy tomorrow and I'll be able to put some of the garden in.

Connor had another good day; he was a little tired and ornery at occupational therapy but otherwise seemed to be fine.  I'm a little concerned that he still has a lingering cough from the cold he had earlier in the month, so I may end up making him an appointment with his primary care manager because he's still doing some pretty good chest coughing and seems kind of fatigued.  His sore throat and runny nose are completely gone though, which is a pretty good thing.  He certainly coughs when he gets up in the morning.  Other than being kind of tired he did a great job at occupational therapy today though-- no coughing there-- so it's hard for me to tell if I'm just being an overprotective mother or not.  I've gotten seriously used to him not doing well over the last few months, so maybe now that he's doing better I'm just paranoid or something.  He's due for his five year old check-up anyway, so when I bring him in for that maybe I can get her to listen to his lungs too.

I need to reset my mom radar for a kid who's not having seizures every minute or so.  It's quite the adjustment!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Which I Garden Some More

I worked out in the yard for several more hours today and the herb garden is almost finished!

While Connor attended school today I laid out and finished up my brick pathway.  Then after the little guy had his nap, we drove out to the nursery and picked up most of the herbs I'll be planting. 

Connor enjoyed the nursery trip, though we did have to do a little maneuvering so we could look at plants without being downwind from the lavender (which Connor is highly allergic to).  Luckily disaster was averted and I was able to purchase my herbs without my child breaking out in hives.  It probably wouldn't have affected him-- I'm pretty sure he'd have to either inhale the oil or get it on his skin for it to cause a reaction-- but better safe than sorry!

That's creeping thyme planted between the bricks; hopefully over time it will spread out and fill in the cracks to make a really attractive path.  In the plots I'm putting in thyme (the culinary kind), marjoram, nasturtiums, chives, oregano, bee balm, prostrate rosemary, borage, lemon balm, parsley, pineapple sage, dill and scented geraniums.  The bee balm, pineapple sage and lemon balm all tend to get out of control if left to grow unchecked, so I sank dividers underneath the bricks surrounding their plots and hopefully that will help.  Of course the lemon balm spreads by seed too, so I'm still taking a risk.  If in about three years I have twelve plots of lemon balm we'll know that the experiment failed. 

It's not quite past the freezing date yet for this area, but we're supposed to have a really good week of warm weather so hopefully the plants will mostly be over the shock of transplanting if it decides to dip below freezing again after that.  Also I have a really, really big tarp I can drape over the whole thing like a tent if need be.  I'm completely ready for it to stop freezing, though.  I am so over this winter stuff.  I think that Washington state does this sort of thing on purpose-- gives us a run of three or four days of really gorgeous weather so we remember what sun looks like and then dumps rain on us for another three weeks.  Every time it teases us with sun it's saying: "See?  This is what spring looks like in places other than here.  Ha ha!  Maybe you should move."

I think Washington is kind of a misanthrope. 

You will notice that other than the sage (which will grow anywhere) there aren't any herbs in there that love the heat.  They really don't do very well in this area because we only have sun for a third of the year or so.  This is a problem, because I want to be able to cook Thai meals at home and of course all of the herbs they use need very hot weather.  It would be really nice to have those ready and established so I can start harvesting before Ellen gets here!  So I'm planning a couple of raised beds on the sunniest side of the house  with cold box frames to fit on top of them.  Hopefully I'll be able to grow chilies, basil, lemongrass, and maybe even turmeric if I'm lucky!  Galangal and ginger might be more difficult to keep warm since they prefer a shady spot.  Maybe I could use tinted glass for part of my bed, or build another box on the shaded side of the house.  I'll get it figured out.

A strawberry pot full of different kinds of mint should round out my Thai cooking collection nicely.  We get shallots, onions and garlic through our Community Supported Agriculture program, so I don't need to put those in.  We'll just have to get the kaffir lime leaves at the local Asian food store, though.  There's no way limes are going to grow in our yard, and as adorable as those little potted lime trees are I know how they would fare in my house; Loki would strip the plant down to twigs with his teeth in about twenty seconds.  He's like a house plant piranha.

I was hoping to get my pictures of Ellen in the mail today, but they didn't come.  Hopefully they'll show up tomorrow!  I wish I could show you all what she looks like, but I want to respect her privacy and the wishes of the Thai government, so I won't be posting any pictures of her or identifying information (including her real name, as you all know) until after the adoption-- if she gives me permission.  She's old enough to have a say in how much information about her is shared. 

I'm hoping she'll be okay with it though, because I want you all to see her smiling face!


Monday, April 11, 2011

In Which Our Gerbil Escapes

Well today was eventful.

This morning I took Connor off to school and then got ready to work out in the yard on the herb garden path.  I popped into Connor's room to feed the gerbils before heading outside.  Every morning when I come into the room, Leelee and Cranston run up to the top floor of their cage, stand up on their hind legs and beg in an adorable fashion for their breakfast.  Well, not today.  Today one gerbil ran up to the top of the cage and begged in an adorable fashion.  This just does not happen-- the gerbils never miss an opportunity to stuff their faces full of food.  Even when they're asleep if I click my tongue at them a couple of times they'll uncurl, dig their way out of their bedding and rush up to the top.  I went to open up the top of their cage and discovered that the latch had already been popped.

Leelee had flown the coop. 

Losing a gerbil in a house with cats is kind of a nerve-wracking experience.  Someone is going to find the gerbil sooner or later, and Leelee would probably prefer it to be me.  Since I knew there had been two gerbils in the cage last night and I hadn't found any rodent bits scattered around the house this morning I figured Leelee was still in Connor's room (we don't let the cats in there).  So I quickly plugged the bottom of the bedroom door with a towel and began with the most logical place for the escapee to be hiding: in Connor's closet. 

An hour and a half later I had completely dissected everything in Connor's room that could possibly contain a gerbil.  I checked behind his bookcase, in his clothes and underneath his side table.  I even took Connor's mattress off the bed, thinking maybe Leelee had managed to squeeze down underneath.  Defeated, I put the room to rights and then came out into the kitchen to have a cup of tea and plan a new strategy.  I thought that perhaps the gerbil had managed to squeeze under the door and was now in our craft room (the cats aren't allowed in there either) so I went back and plugged the door up with a towel just in case.  I was pouring the water for my tea and dreading the thought of having to paw through all of my sewing supplies when my alarm went off to go pick up Connor.  I figured I'd shut the cats up while I was gone just in case the gerbil decided to make a run for it.  They were easy to find-- they were both right by the couch.  In fact, they were both staring intently at the space under the couch.  Also Loki seemed to be trying to dig his way through the floor and had actually shoved a couple portions of the sectional apart with his head in an attempt to get around to the side.


I quickly grabbed the cats and shoved them in the laundry room.  Then I found a flashlight and peered under our couch.  It was really, really dusty-- apparently I'm overdue to vacuum underneath there.  Also every fuzzy cat toy we own seems to have been shoved under there by our cats, so I had a few false alarms.  On my third sweep with the flashlight, though, I caught the the reflective glint of a pair of beady eyes.  The gerbil was crouched as far back against the wall as he could go in the dead center of our couch.  Connor was being released from school in ten minutes.  It was a race against time.

I moved the surrounding furniture away from the couch, quickly jury rigged a trap with a small wastebasket and some seeds, and set about attempting to catch the escaped convict as fast as I possibly could.  I thought that if I set the food at the back, I could get Leelee to run into the wastebasket and then close the lid before he could get back out.  Leelee spent the first five minutes running up to the edge of the couch, looking at the wastebasket and then running back under.  I was getting antsy when he sprinted into the trash can at top speed.  I waited until I heard him start to chow down and then attempted to quickly tilt the basket up and close the lid.  It took me less than half a second.

In that half a second, Lee sprinted back up the side of the basket (now tilted at a 45 degree angle), squeaked out just as the lid was closing and launched himself Evel Knieval-style through the air.  He rebounded off the couch and skittered back underneath.

I put the trashcan down in disgust and went off to get Connor.

When I got back, I quickly put Connor down for his nap and then looked back under the couch.  Nothing but dust and toy mice met my eyes.  The gerbil had moved on.  I had a limited amount of time before we were supposed to leave for Connor's pony riding lesson and I didn't want to keep the cats shut in the laundry room all day, so I figured I needed a new strategy.  Just how good were cats at sniffing out rodents, anyway?  They'd led me to Leelee once; maybe they could do it again.  Loki is the more enthusiastic hunter of the two, so I figured he was the one to try.

I went and got Loki's leash.

Yes, we've leash-trained our cats.  It's extremely convenient for vet visits and while we don't actually walk them (they don't exactly heel like dogs will) we will sometimes take them out in the backyard and they allow us to follow them around while they munch on grass, contemplate small rocks and do the other myriad of things cats enjoy doing outdoors.  I snapped on Loki's harness and leash and carried him out of the laundry room. 

He promptly went to the back door and waited for me to open it.  Clearly we were not on the same page.

I took him over the couch and it was like a light bulb clicked on in his little brain.  Hey, there was a snack down there before!  He peered carefully under the couch, sniffed deeply, sneezed and then began stalking in the direction of the kitchen.  He hugged the wall, paused for a second at the fridge, made a slow circuit around the island and then sauntered into the dining room, where he sat down in front of the back door and meowed to be let out. 

It's a good thing people don't use cats as search and rescue animals. 

I locked a disappointed Loki back into the laundry room and left with Connor for his pony ride.  Two thirds of the way there Connor had a little seizure and promptly fell asleep, so we turned around and went home.  I packed him off to bed and (since I wasn't about to search the entire house for the darn gerbil), went outside, set up the little guy's apnea monitor receiver where I could hear it and started work on the herb garden.  Connor slept for the next three hours or so, and I'd dug out about twenty-five feet worth of the garden path when I heard him start making little "Hey I'm awake noises." 

When I walked into his room, there was a gerbil in the middle of the floor.  I shoved the blanket back underneath the door and prepared to do battle.

Over the course of the next ten minutes, Connor's room was completely destroyed as I systematically tore apart Leelee's hiding places.  In the end I finally managed to trap him in one of the bookcase cubes long enough to pick him up and get him back into the cage.  It looked like a tornado had ripped through the bedroom, but at least the gerbil's bid for freedom was over.  There's a new lid on the cage now, so hopefully there won't be any repeat attempts. 

So that's how a gerbil outsmarted me for most of a day.  Let's hope it's the last time this happens so the cats don't get to model what Jer calls "proper predator-prey relationships."  Though given Loki's performance today I'd say that Leelee probably doesn't have a whole lot to worry about.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Which Our Deck Is Finished!

The New Deck!
Our beautiful new deck is finished! 

All that's left to do is put another coat of stain on, and that won't really be feasible until the weather dries out.  I've put up "before" (taken when we bought the house) and "after" pictures for your viewing pleasure. 

The deck is fully wheelchair accessible; there's a second ramp not shown in this picture that runs down the side of the house and connects up with our cement pad back there, so it's now possible to actually take Connor from the front yard into the backyard without going into the house. 

Right now both the deck and the ramps have low "bumpers" to keep a wheelchair from going over the edge but no railing because it's not likely we'll need it before we have to redo the deck another twenty years or so down the road.  We significantly expanded the deck's size and now it's much easier to get around and fit our patio furniture on with plenty of space left over.  The ramp in the picture ends in grass right now, but eventually it will lead down to a nice patio space that I'm still tweaking the design for.  Oh, and the bottom step will be finished off once we put in said patio-- which may be a while.  But otherwise it's done, and I'm excited to try it out this summer!
The Old Deck

What I spent the vast majority of my time working on is the other half-finished project you see to the right in the "after" shot.  That's going to be my herb garden!  I spent about seven hours today playing with a bricks, bags of sand and a shovel and as a result all of the edging on the garden is now set.  Tomorrow I'll start work on the pathway through the center of the garden that you can see laid out.   Each divided area will have a single type of herb in it; I like planting enough that I have plenty to cut for cooking without decimating any individual plant.  There are twelve spaces in all for herbs, and then the center ring around the bird bath will be planted in flowers.  I'm planning on putting creeping thyme in between the bricks on the pathway.  Hopefully in a few years it will look truly lovely.

Since Connor's not planning on taking up cooking any time soon, we've got raised planting beds in the works for all of Jeremy's cooking needs (the man eats his weight in spinach every year) and Ellen should easily be able to navigate the foot path I'm not as concerned about making the herb wheel accessible right now.  There will be plenty of accessible space in the yard, so it's okay to have a spot just for me!  Plus it shouldn't be too hard to modify the space later if we need to; I'm not using any mortar or making any sort of a permanant structure there.


Other projects we're planning for our backyard in the future include an arbor, the aforementioned patio (possibly with a fire pit-- we haven't decided yet), raised beds, either a trellis or planting boxes affixed to the fence on the side of the house, an accessible pathway around the other side of the house and a small patio area in the front yard.  Oh, and also I want to take out the rest of the sod in the backyard and put in a no-mow fragrant groundcover mix, and of course there's all the planting still to do.  I think that will keep us busy for a few years!

I think I'll need a break for a couple of days after I finish the herb garden though.  All that digging has made me pretty sore!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

In Which We Work Hard

Today was a crazy busy day. 

So I woke up a little early this morning, grabbed my skates and was off to Tacoma to participate in the Daffodil Parade!  It was great to see all the kids excited by the roller skating, and some of the floats were really cool.  Connor and Jeremy stayed home because I knew I was going to be there for about four hours, it was pretty cold outside and we didn't think he would be able to handle the loud noises and exciting sights for so long. 

After the parade I popped into Freighthouse Square and had lunch with a couple of derby friends, and then I drove home to discover that Jeremy had spent the time I was gone cleaning the house.  He mopped the floors and everything!  Have I mentioned that I have a fantastic husband? 

I arrived home shortly after our respite care worker and her husband Jake (who is helping us out with the deck) got there.  Jeremy, Jake and I spent the next six hours working outside on the backyard while Connor played inside with Joanna.  Yes, once again it's power tool season for me!  I haven't managed to cut any body parts off myself or anyone else yet, but given my hand-eye coordination it's probably only a matter of time. 

All of that hard work and potential amputation has paid off, though.  Except for one of the benches, the edging and a second coat of stain, the deck is finished!  Also I now have a glorious new bed for my herb and kitchen garden.  Tomorrow the plan is to finish up the deck, and I'll be starting work on a brick herb wheel and a pathway through the kitchen garden bed that will someday connect up to the patio-- whenever we get around to putting that in. 

So it was a long but productive day, and I spent more time outdoors than I have for probably about three months.  I actually got a bit of a sunburn, which is crazy because it implies that there's actually sunshine up here.  Tomorrow it's supposed to be back to cold and chilly, so we'll see how much work I actually get done.  Also it might be dependent on how sore I am.  I suspect I will need a significant amount of ibuprofen to get out of bed in the morning.

I can't wait until summer when we can use our brand new outdoor space!


Friday, April 8, 2011

In Which Connor Has A Parade

Connor is thankfully asleep right now; I'm hoping he stays that way!  He (and I) ended up getting a little more than three hours of sleep last night, so he could use some catch up time. 

He had a pretty fun day today, because tomorrow is the annual Daffodil parade (which I'll be participating in with my roller derby league!) and our local junior high marching band practiced their routine by marching through our neighborhood.  Just like last year, Connor was convinced they were holding a miniature parade solely for his benefit, and he was thrilled.  He clapped, waved, giggled and did his very best to charm the pants off of all of the students.  It was adorable.

In other news, after a long hiatus working on the deck (due to the nasty winter weather) it looks like it might be finished up this weekend!  We're so excited about having an attractive backyard space that Connor can use.  I'll post pictures of it as soon as it's finished up!  The next project we'll probably tackle is a patio space, though we're not sure whether or not we want to start that this year.  There's a lot of cleanup work to be done in both the back and the front yards and it might be nicer for our neighbors if we did that rather than starting on another big messy project!  We'll see what we decide to do-- it'll all get done eventually.

I received a package in the mail yesterday; it was the first round of young adult books I ordered in Thai.  I now have a Thai language copy of Romeo and Juliet and Ramona the Brave as well as a 5,000 word Thai/English picture dictionary.  I'm going to try and find as many Thai translations of books that Ellen will likely be reading in school as I can because I think they'll really help her with the transition to American schools.  They are really difficult to find here because the Thai alphabet is so different than the English alphabet and so it's more expensive to print them.  I'll keep snatching them up when I can and hopefully I'll be able to buy some in Thailand when we travel and ship them back.  We'll just have to see; Thailand is very careful about the exportation of books and so I think it might make the customs process a little more complicated. 

We'll cross that bridge when we get there!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

In Which Connor Is Sad

I thoroughly enjoyed my earlier bedtime last night and made the most of it!  It's a good thing too, because I'm currently sitting here with a very sad Connor on my lap.  I suspect he's having some tummy troubles, so I'll probably be up a while.  Poor little guy.

It's very hard to type with a sad, snotty wiggling kid on my lap.  So this is all the blog you get for tonight.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In Which Connor Has Some Tests

Well, that was unexpected.

Connor slept for a grand total of twenty-two and a half hours (with just a few short breaks in which I tried unsuccessfully to wake him up)-- from 7:00 yesterday morning until 5:30 this morning, when I woke him up to get him ready for our brain MRI and sedated hearing test appointment.  Now that's a long nap! 

Not only that, but he actually went to bed on time tonight and is currently peacefully asleep.  Trust me when I say that I am extremely excited about this, and I'm trying to blog as quickly as I can so that I can take advantage of being able to go to sleep before the wee hours of the morning. 

Connor's tests both went smoothly, though to be honest I wasn't sure if they were actually going to do them at all because he's still pretty congested from his cold of earlier in the week.  They listened to his lungs and after a little debate decided that he'd be all right.  So they got an IV (in a scalp vein, which looks kind of bad but is actually a pretty good place for him to have one since he's much less likely to mess with it) and administered a drug called Propofol to make him fall asleep.  He's been given Propofol in the past for procedures where they need to make sure he remains really still and it's a great drug for him because it puts him out easily and comfortably and he recovers quickly and well from it (it also happens to be the drug that killed Michael Jackson, but that's kind of irrelevant).  The only issue he has with it is that he burns through it really quickly due to his crazy metabolism.  The anesthesiologist said he had to give Connor way more than he was expecting to keep him under. 

Also Connor kept coughing during the MRI so it took them more time to get pictures than they expected, since every time he coughed he of course moved.  But otherwise things went really well.

So we don't have the results on the MRI yet, but we heard the results of the hearing test right away, and right now things look stable!  Connor actually tested like his hearing had gotten slightly better, which the audiologist said was probably due to a margin of error.  At any rate, it was great news to hear that he hasn't experienced any more hearing loss at this time, and I'm really hoping that this continues to be the trend in future years! 

Overall the day went pretty well!  And now I'm off to sleep.  Whoo hoo!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In Which Connor Takes A Twelve Hour Nap

Bright Eyed And Bushy Tailed On His Way To School
So Connor's solid week of insomnia finally caught up to him all at once.

When I woke him up this morning he simply refused to wake up.  He fell asleep as I was putting his back brace on, which is pretty impressive considering the amount of adjusting and cinching that goes into that.  Then he fell asleep while I was putting on his clothes.  He refused to open his eyes during breakfast, and he kept falling asleep with his mouth open while I was spooning in his yogurt.  Every once in a while he'd crack an eye and take a quick look at me, but when he saw that I was watching him his eyes would immediately shut again.

He wasn't sick though, and I figured that maybe he'd perk up once he got to school.  Plus I figured that the best way to ensure that he'd, you know, actually sleep tonight would be to keep him as close to his normal routine as possible.  So I wheeled him into the classroom and left him there (with his eyes still closed).  I told them to call me if they felt like it was just not going to work out today and went off to run my errands and get a little relax time.

One of my best parenting moments?  Maybe not.  But the kid misses enough school as it is, and I wasn't about to call them and tell them that he wasn't coming to preschool because he felt like sleeping in today.

Well, apparently he absolutely refused to wake up, and ended up spending the entire day snoozing on the floor, completely oblivious to the happy noise of his friends around him.  When I picked him up he looked at me all bleary eyed for a minute.  He closed his eyes again when I put him in the van, and by the time I got home he was snoring away.  So I gave up on the activities I had planned and decided to put him down for a nap.

What follows is a pictorial journal of the rest of his day.




I changed out his sleeping pad and took off his shirt around four because he'd drooled all over the place and it didn't look terribly comfortable.  I also changed his diaper, and he didn't even stop snoring through the whole process.

I am happy to say that I took a hint from Connor and also took a nap today.  While mine was not nearly as long as his has been, it certainly was refreshing.

It's now well past his normal bedtime and he's still completely out.  I'm wondering at what point he's going to wake up and decide it's time to start the day.  Two in the morning?  Three?  Place your bets now folks, and I'll let you know tomorrow. 

Silly little guy.


Monday, April 4, 2011

In Which Connor Rides A Pony

Obligatory Connor On A Pony Photo
Connor woke up this morning in good spirits but still really snotty and coughy, so I decided to keep him back from school.  I'm pretty sure he'll be able to go tomorrow though, as not only was he mostly back to his normal self but he also didn't have a single seizure!  I just didn't want to expose the other kids to a possible contagion.

Of course, now Jeremy and I are both getting sick.  Oh well.

At any rate, Connor continued to perk up throughout the day and since the ponies weren't going to catch his cold I decided to go ahead and take him for his first riding session.  So we drove down to Spirit's Party Barn, pulled up outside and took the wheelchair through the muddy terrain and into the enclosed paddock where Greg was waiting for us.  This time Connor rode Spirit, who is the barn's namesake and an elderly, gentle pony.  Spirit was quite a bit bigger than Thunder (the last pony Connor rode) and Connor wasn't sure what to make of the situation at first, but after Spirit investigated the little guy's shoes and lipped at his shirt the kiddo decided that he was okay with the situation and settled into the riding.

Oh, and please note that I did in fact get a picture of Connor on the pony as requested.  Your brain probably won't implode due to the fact that it was not, in fact, a miniature pony this time, but hopefully there is more than enough cuteness there to satisfy all parties requesting said photos.  I got more but this is the only one in which he is not actively drooling (probably because balancing on a pony is such hard work).  I'll try to take some more at a future date.

Anyway, he did a fantastic job!  Greg commented that Connor seems much steadier in the saddle and needed much less support than the last time he rode, which was lovely to hear.  Greg led Spirit around the paddock in a slow, wide circle while keeping one hand on Connor, and I helped support the little guy from the other side.  Connor rode Spirit four times in about ten minute intervals with a nice long break in between each to give him a chance to recover; riding is hard work!  By the end he was signing "want more," every time we stopped, and he was feeling confident enough to gently feel the saddle and Spirit's mane.  Connor also got to see a baby goat and a couple of silkie chickens (the dustmops of the chicken world).  He was mostly interested in watching Spirit, though. 

I mentioned to you all the last time I wrote about Connor doing some riding how I thought Greg was a great guy and would be a positive influence on Connor; well, he certainly proved that again today.  Not only was he amazing with both the animals and the little guy, but he offered to let Connor come ride twice a week and refused any compensation.  I kind of teared up a little; I have a feeling that the riding is going to be hugely beneficial to Connor on so many levels and this means that he can continue to ride well past the couple of months that we had room for in our budget.

There are some pretty fantastic people out there.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

In Which Connor Loves His Sister And I Start Nesting Again

Connor had a snotty, sicky night again last night and stayed up really late, so I ended up skipping my Thai lesson this morning as there was no way I was going to be learning anything given how little sleep I've gotten in the past two days.  I'm a little worried that he's still going to be congested when it's time for his MRI on Wednesday and we'll have to move it.  Since it took me almost four months to get the appointment set up I would not be particularly thrilled by that development.  However, I also don't want him going under anesthesia while he's congested, so we'll just have to see how he's doing then.  He wasn't running a fever today and he only had a couple of small seizures, so it's likely that he's over the worst of it.

He's supposed to start school up again tomorrow and also have his first horseback riding lesson, so I'm really hoping that he'll be feeling better!  I'm pretty sure he'll be up for going to school judging by how he felt today, but if he's still really snotty we can't risk him infecting the other kids, some of whom are medically fragile like he is. 

When I wasn't taking care of the little guy I was either listening to podcasts about adoption (I'm particularly fond of the Foster Parenting Podcast by Tim and Wendy, which has a whole lot of great info that translates to various types of adoption) or surfing the Internet looking at interior decorating sites.  The new information we received about Ellen has got me nesting in a major way, and I'm starting to think about her room and the essentials she'll need for when she gets here even though there's no way that's happening any time soon.  I think it's a way for me to feel connected with her through the long wait.

We aren't going to put more than the basics in our daughter's room before she gets here.  This is for two reasons.  The first is that children (and teenagers) who come from orphanage settings often are really overwhelmed by having a whole lot of stuff and don't really know what to make of it.  They're coming from environments where they generally have very few (if any) personal possessions and so it can be unnerving to go from having so little to having everything. 

The second reason is that we want Ellen to feel comfortable in her own room and feel she should have a say in what it looks like.  A child's bedroom should be their intimate, personal place where they feel at home, and right now we don't know enough about her personal tastes to feel comfortable decking out a room and being sure we'd make it a place that feels right for her.  By waiting until she's here and allowing her to choose things such as a bedspread, curtains, pictures for the walls, etc. we think it might help her feel like her room is her own and that she's a wanted part of our family instead of a visitor staying in a guest room. 

We did ask her what her favorite color is in the hopes that we could get a jump start on the very basic stuff though, like sheets, wall paint, and furniture.  It turns out her favorite color is white, which is an interesting choice and not a very common favorite color!  I ended up wandering into the mall and buying her some simple white sheets to add to her box of things in her closet, since I figured all the eyelet and ruffly stuff might or might not be to her taste.  We'll wait on most of the big purchases until things get closer, but I really wanted to get something for her to celebrate the fact that with our dossier's successful delivery to Thailand we're one step closer to bringing her home.  I feel like I can give myself permission to really start imagining Ellen in our home since my fears that we'd get another dreaded phone call thankfully did not come to pass.  While we still have to wait for Thailand to approve us and make the referral, it's pretty likely now that the match will happen unless for some reason they determine that we're unfit parents or a relative magically appears to claim her after her thirteen year stay in the orphanage.

We've begun preparing Connor again for the idea of having a sister, and he is completely in love with Ellen-- or at least with how Ellen looks.  We've shown him the videos and pictures we have of her, and he now asks to see them over and over again.  I'm not entirely sure he gets the concept of having a sister yet, but our discussions with him have garnered an interesting side effect.  Now whenever he sees anyone who is Asian, he gets really excited and signs "Want!  Want!."  It's cute but a little bit embarrassing to explain-- especially when the person he's shrieking and gesturing towards is an elderly gentleman who might not be amused by the fact that he's being compared to (or possibly mistaken for) a teenage girl.  It's kind of like the phase Connor went through when he was convinced all people in uniforms were "Daddy."

Oh well.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

In Which I Watch My Team Bout And Connor Sort Of Sleeps

Connor decided last night that he was going to break his own record and he stayed literally all night.  I guess the combination of feeling lousy, napping a whole lot during the day, and coming down off his medication all helped there.  I was not terribly appreciative of his new record.  I like my sleep.

I spent most of today doing roller derby bout-related things in preparation for tonight; while I wasn't skating this one there's still a ton of things that go into putting a bout together.  I'm happy to say that not only did my team win again (which means that we'll be playing in the championship bout for the fifth year running) but we also once again sold the place out!  If we keep this up we're going to need to find ourselves a bigger venue.

Connor seemed to be doing all right today; he still felt a little under the weather but he had perked up quite a bit compared to yesterday.  So Jeremy went ahead and brought him along to the bout, decked out in red and black in honor of the occasion.  Jer had a great time, but Connor was not quite so enamored with the evening.  Mostly he seemed to think it was way too loud; he didn't like the whistles or the yelling.  He calmed down quite a bit after we took his hearing aids out, and he spent the whole second half of the evening sleeping in either my or Jeremy's arms.  Of course the second we got him home and put him in his bed he decided he wasn't sleepy anymore.  Right now he's in there singing to himself.

Maybe I should try going in and blowing a whistle at him for a while.  Maybe it would help.


Friday, April 1, 2011

In Which Connor Has A Birthday And We Got Our Big Phone Call

The Saddy Sicky Birthday Boy:
At Least There Was Chocolate Whipped Cream!
Yay!  Happy birthday to Connor!

Can you believe my kid is five?  I sure as heck can't.  It really doesn't seem like it's been five years since we got to meet our little guy for the first time.  Only now I guess he's not so much of a little guy anymore.  He's more of a big boy. 


Unfortunately the big boy started running a low-grade fever today and wasn't really able to do much celebrating.  We spent a quiet day at home watching a couple new birthday movies in between naps and seizures (he had five today).  Also he had a couple of bites of chocolate whipped cream, but he didn't really seem interested in it, which tells me he was feeling pretty punky.  He ended the evening snuggled up in Jeremy's lap.

Connor did enjoy the movies quite a bit as television watching is a very special treat for him, but as far as birthday celebrations go it didn't really seem like a very good one to me.  We'll reschedule his special family outing for another day when he's feeling better.

However, he did get really excited when I told him he'll be going to visit and ride Thunder again on Monday.  We'll be fitting him for a helmet on Sunday (since I have a roller derby bout to go cheer at tomorrow and won't have a whole lot of time for shopping) and hopefully he'll be fully recovered by then and ready to have a great time! 

Don't worry; I'll do my very best to get some good pictures of him riding for you all, though I'm not sure cuteness on that scale can be recorded without my camera exploding.

Even though the little guy wasn't feeling up to par the day ended on a high note; we got our call from the adoption agency with our update on Ellen!  When our adoption agency went to meet with her the orphanage workers immediately told her that she was being adopted by an American family-- which is something our agency and we weren't expecting at all-- and her whole face just lit up!  She was thrilled and asked to see pictures of us, which they were luckily able to pull out of our dossier (as we're way too early in the process for a photo album to have been sent over yet).  She thought we looked nice, is excited about the idea of having a little brother, said she's okay with cats (though she likes dogs better) and can't wait to travel to her new home. 

This is the best possible reaction from her we could have hoped for.  While Ellen will no doubt have a lot of conflicting emotions and will grieve leaving her home, school and friends behind, the fact that she wants to be adopted and is excited about coming to America will probably make her transition so much easier than if she was not interested in being adopted or was really against leaving her birth country. 

We were able to have a whole lot of questions about her answered, and the more we find out about her the neater the kid seems.  Turns out that she's already done a little bit of traveling internationally; she flew to China in 2010 for the Asian Paralympic games!  Apparently she's a really dedicated swimmer-- freestyle is her favorite stroke-- and she practices seven days a week.  She also studies the art of fencing. 

That's right-- we're adopting a kid who stabs people with swords as a hobby.  Jeremy, as you might imagine, couldn't be happier. 

We now have a bunch more little facts about her that are helping us get a better picture of the kind of young lady she is, and the more we learn the more we're convinced that she'll be a great fit for our family.  So hopefully in the next week we'll be receiving our updated pictures and translated documentation for her, which we're excited about seeing. 

We're so glad that we got great news!

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